India-UAE FTA to boost agri exports: APEDA

India’s new comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with the UAE will come as a shot in the arm for exporters of buffalo meat, fruits and vegetables, groundnut, dairy products and assorted processed food items to the Western Asian country. Removal or reduction of tariffs under the pact, which will take effect from May, could allow these exporters to gain an edge over competitors from Brazil, Australia and Pakistan.

“We will be tapping opportunities in expanding export of buffalo meat, dairy products, cucumbers, gherkins, processed foods, alcoholic beverages and natural honey following the signing of CEPA,” M Angamuthu, chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (APEDA), told Financial Express.

The UAE is India’s second-largest export destination for agriculture commodities after Bangladesh. In 2020-21, India’s agricultural product exports to the UAE stood at $ 1,926 million. In the first three quarters of2021-22,the exports to UAE crossed $1,865 million. Currently, most exports of agricultural products to the UAE are subject to a 5% duty.

In the last couple of years, India has been facing stiff competition from Brazil, Pakistan and Australia for increasing exports of buffalo meat to the UAE and has been facing competition from China and Argentina for exports of groundnut.

India and UAE have also agreed to expand cooperation through increased bilateral food and agriculture trade and responsible foreign investments in agriculture and food systems. In 2020,India was the leading supplier of rice (72.15%), fresh onions (45.84%), fresh grapes (18.7%), milled products (51.06%), fruits and vegetable seeds (32.16%), Guargum (60.33%) and Albumin (17%) to the UAE.

Under a food security corridor initiative between two countries, APEDA has signed an MoU with A1 Dhara Holding SP LLC for import of food products. Another MoU with DP World FZE will facilitate further exports of India’s food products. APEDA has been expanding the export basket by adding newer products such as pomegranate arils, jackfruit, dragon fruit, drumstick, chilled baby corn, snow peas along with organic herbs, turmeric spices, dehydrated vegetables, etc, with a focused approach to increase export of millets. The value-added product of saffron from Jammu and Kashmir has been exported to the UAE.

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